Brazilian Minister Repeats: American Pilots Should Have Stuck to Flight Plan

Brazilian Defense minister, Waldir Pires, criticized statements made by the owners of ExcelAire, the New-York-based air-taxi company, whose plane collided with a Boeing 737 over the Amazon jungle causing Brazil’s worst air accident ever.

Pires was reacting to a press release issued by the American company in which they blame the Brazilian air traffic controllers for the September 29 accident, which left 154 people dead. These statements, say the Brazilian minister, are "absolutely inadequate."

ExcelAire, in its note, said that it’s premature to blame its pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino for the tragedy. The company was responding to charges of negligence contained in two lawsuits filed in US courts by American lawyers on behalf of the families of the victims who died in the crash. 

In one of the judicial proceedings, attorney Manuel von Ribbeck writes that the ExcelAire’s pilots "did not adopt the needed precautions and acted in a careless and negligent manner." 

Ribbeck also said that at the time of the collision, the Legacy’s pilots were not in the altitude determined by the flight plan. Moreover, the suit contends, they weren’t able to adequately operate the TCAS [the anti-collision system] or to maintain the necessary communication with the Brazilian Air Traffic Control."

Robert Torricella, the American lawyer representing ExcelAire, had stated in the company’s press release: "In the face of recent confirmations that air traffic control cleared and directed the ExcelAire Legacy Jet to fly to Manaus at 37,000 feet, repeated suggestions that ExcelAire’s pilots were flying at the wrong altitude are baseless,"

And added: "According to international aviation regulations and norms, air traffic control directives take precedence over a written flight plan and those directives effectively amend the written flight plan. It is the flight plan cleared by air traffic control at the time of departure – and not the prior written flight plan – that governs the conduct of the flight."

According to minister Pires, however, the American pilots should have stuck to their original flight plan whatever was told them  by the air controllers:

"The control tower, usually, cares about the plane’s take off and its final destination, but it’s not the tower that determined altitudes and the course of things. This is determined by the flight plan. And, in the flight plan, obviously, was written that the plane should march (sic) at 37,000 feet from São José dos Campos through Brasí­lia and that in Brasí­lia it should descend to 36,000 feet."

Lepore and Paladino have been detained in Rio de Janeiro. Their passports were confiscated by the Rio Federal Police. The Legacy plane, which as involved in the accident, also cannot leave the country.


  • Show Comments (11)

  • JC

    So Mr.Ch. c
    Lets go back to your questions…or one may say back to your baseless asinine statements like À¢€œ Curios that a Defense Minister is an aviation expert and knows the International aviation regulations and norms !!!!!!! À¢€œ
    Mr. Ch .c, A Defense minister in any country must be surrounded by powerful network of information gathering technocrats that in turn have full accessibility to all the technological gadgetry that a country can have. A Defense Minister doesnˢ۪t have to be an expert on anything (just look at Rumsfeld) but to have full access to powerful information and intelligence
    À¢€œ.By the way, if for whatever reason, the accident would have been at 36000 feet, would have not Pires said…..the exact opposite ???? À¢€œ
    No, Pires was referring to the international regulation that refers to all flights flying in the direction they were flying (from Brasilia to Manaus) to be on even numbers. Pires was reacting about a previous statement by the Excelair Company.

  • JC

    To ch. c
    GeeÀ¢€¦ let me see who should be more credible the defense Minister Mr. Pires that have full access to classified and declassified information from SIVAM SYSTEM as well as the international investigation team À¢€¦ or with Mr. ch. c ??? Now we all know Mr. ch. c always have the À¢€œinsideÀ¢€Â information that nobody else in the world haveÀ¢€¦ not to mention his À¢€œinstantaneous google knowledgeÀ¢€Â and prolific expertise on all Brazilian mattersÀ¢€¦ Hummm decisionsÀ¢€¦decisionsÀ¢€¦

    The job of the government and the international investigators is to go thru all the technical evidence available to reconstruct what really occurred on the skies above the Amazon forest. The Brazilian government must learn from this tragedy and insure the implementation of appropriate safeguards, regardless of who caused this tragic accident.
    The Brazilian authorities have in their hands one of the most advanced surveillance system in the world the À¢€œSIVAM SYSTEMÀ¢€Â, which has been in operation now for about 12 years and fully implemented in 2003.

    À¢€œSIVAM infrastructure comprises three regional surveillance centers in Manaus, Porto Velho, Belem and a general coordination center in Brasilia. All centers have stations and servers to process incoming data from satellites, specially equipped aircraft, and ground sensors. The Manaus air surveillance center is being equipped with a “blended” ATC system, to make the centerÀ¢€™s addition to BrazilÀ¢€™s air traffic control as seamless as possible,

    The regionˢ۪s environmental data is delivered to the centers via a Network Systems of geostationary satellite, located above the equator. The transponder dedicated to SIVAM is in the satellite and the data derives from an array of 424 small aperture terminals with the Brazilian government to install 900 more terminals.
    Authorized users at the terminals can access a À¢€˜catalogÀ¢€™ of information products. The four centers receive and archives a steady stream of data to create the information products from SIVAM sensors, multisensor and earth observation satellites.
    As part of the SIVAM system is an upgraded satellite ground stations for the INPE (the Brazilian institute for space research). The earth observation satellites include the Landsat 7, SPOT 4, Radarsat, and ERS-1 and -2. Data also comes from three additional satellites: GOES, a weather satellite accompanied by three ground stations; TIROS, a polar orbiting satellite that provides weather and atmospheric data and includes a ground station in Manaus; and SCD-1, a Brazilian satellite that acquires data from ground stations, such as water levels and rainfall. Information from these satellites largely serves to monitor the AmazonÀ¢€™s rain forest environment, but it also can be accessed by the regionÀ¢€™s air traffic control.Twenty-five ground radar sites are linked to the Manaus center by a Comtech/Alcatel satcom system. Five sites that have Thomson CSF radars are integrated into the SIVAM network. In addition, seven ASR-23 solid state, L-band, two-dimensional (azimuth and range) primary radars with integrated monopulse secondary radar, and seven stand-alone Condor Mk 2 monopulse secondary radars. They are 3D-capable to monitor aircraft that are not equipped with transponders. The radar sites, along with five additional sites, also serve as telecommunications centers, incorporating both VHF and UHF transceivers. À¢€œ

    Points of interest (in my opinion)
    a) À¢€ÂAuthorized users at the terminals can access a À¢€˜catalogÀ¢€™ of information products.À¢€Â

    A subdivision of the SIVAM system is entirely dedicated to the Brazilian Defense Department, the INPE, CISCEA and the Air Force with most of its information being À¢€œclassified informationÀ¢€Â.
    The Brazilian ministry find themselves, perhaps for the first time, dealing with the logistics of releasing classified information to the international authorities or declassifying matters of National Security. The information generated by such system used in conjunction with the Black Boxes laboratorial analysis, could provide for one of the most detailed À¢€œreconstruction accident investigationÀ¢€Â in recent times.

    b) À¢€œequipped with a “blended” ATC system, to make the centerÀ¢€™s addition to BrazilÀ¢€™s air traffic control as seamless as possibleÀ¢€Â.

    c) À¢€œThey are 3D-capable to monitor aircraft that are not equipped with transponders.À¢€Â

  • Rick

    Caution: Pires naysayers may be ACM plants.

  • Macaca

    To bad you treat Americans so badly
    À¢€œItÀ¢€™s great,À¢€Â he said. À¢€œNew York is the best marathon, and this is the best victory IÀ¢€™ve ever had. The crowds were wonderful. When you feel fatigue and tired, the people really help.À¢€Â

    Marilson Gomes dos Santos

  • ch.c.

    to JC !
    And by the way….why dont you answer to my questions ?

    No answer that “could” make common sense ?

    Laugh…..laugh….laugh !

  • ch.c.

    to JC
    1) therefore what is the use of the Brazilians operators who said to fly at 37’000 feet ? Are they paid to do nothing and say whatever they think or are they paid to give the proper instructions and if they goof is it not their problem….but the pilots
    problems ? Strange common sense… Brazil !

    In my view, a Defense Minister is not free to accuse anyone before the end of investigations ! But Brazilians Ministers are so stupid ! Just look at the mess Pires is doing if you read the article published a few days ago on this site !

    And Pires, even if he logged many hours in planes, AS A PASSENGER, Doesnt make him an AVIATION EXPERT knowing all the strict rules of the ATCs, pilots and International laws !

    And if he is 80, it would be wiser that he retires anyway ! No doubt that Alzheimer
    invaded his mind already years and years ago !

  • JR

    ATTN: Frequent Fliers
    “Waldir Pires has the right to say whatever he wants to. At 80, his age alone should earn him the right to be heard. While not a pilot, he has many hours logged as a passenger both in airliners and in light aircraft.”

    I’ve logged tons of hours in all sorts of aircraft including helicopters and I say the controllers are guilty – so there. Are you kidding me Rick? That came off as a rather idiotic statement. “Attention frequent fliers – you are now entitled to rule upon air disasters. Platinum plus members who also happen to be aged politicians are given double points for their opinion”. Maybe at 80 he should keep his mouth shut and concentrate on replacing Brazil’s horse-drawn tanks with some old WWII vintage Shermans. Now why don’t you go back to your TV dinner and leave the thinking to others . . .

  • Bushy

    The flight tower intitiated the DISASTER!! They are culpuple in a court of LAW.
    Can’t blame Bush anymore! So who ya gonna call to solve this?? Ghostbusters!!

  • Rick

    Such language!

    Waldir Pires has the right to say whatever he wants to. At 80, his age alone should earn him the right to be heard. While not a pilot, he has many hours logged as a passenger both in airliners and in light aircraft. He is a political appointee and part of his job must include expressing the opinions that best serve the government. Most negative comments about his political career are not accompanied by documentation.

  • jc


  • ch.c.

    …that a Defense Minister is an aviation expert and knows the International aviation regulations and norms !!!!!!!
    Why not let the International experts decide ???

    By the way, if for whatever reason, the accident would have been at 36000 feet, would have not Pires said…..the exact opposite ????

    Truly a clown and a junkie this Pires ! He should better handle his differences and problems with all the military personnel… per an article published on this site just a few days ago !

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